Dear Child of Divorce
Dear Child of Divorce,
The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, and how God uses it all
by Taylor May
Go to my mom’s house on Christmas Eve -- or any holiday, really. You’ll be hugged by more than one stranger and handed a glass of wine that won’t likely find itself empty the duration of the visit. You’ll smell something that must’ve been simmering for hours in a narrow kitchen lined with people and a dog named Jack contently lying among the many feet that contently maneuver around him. You will make your way, eventually after you’ve sat down your contribution to the evenings wine supply and haphazardly taken off your coat, to the living room where the rest of the guests have spilled over onto couches and are talking or not talking over music you might just start to dance to.
The ones who kissed and hugged you as you rambled your way through are all family. My dad will be there, with his wife of 4 years. My mom will be there, too, with her husband of 16. My mom’s side of the family makes up most of the bunch. My half sister from my dad’s side is there, too, with my wild and sweetest nephew. Her mom and her stepdad are there, too, in the mix of it all along with my step dad, Alan’s family. It’s a hoot … and quite a lot for most people to wrap their minds around when they first attend a family function of ours. Have I mentioned the wine?
My parents have been apart since I was very small. Yes, I grew up splitting weeks and Easters and Christmases and birthdays with my baby brother. No, it wasn’t always a “yay, two of everything mentality.” While it is our normal now, for a long time I didn’t know, as a young and growing girl, what a godly, affectionate, and lasting marriage looked like. I knew love, oodles of it … my parents were never shy with their affection for my brother and I. But, I wondered what my place in the world was because of all of it. Why does my dad date? Why does my mom have to go to work? Were questions brought forth by comparison to the lives of my peers.
I had a sort of advantage, growing up with it as a sort of “norm” since I don’t quite remember it happening. It was just the way things were in my family, the way we were. And while such a circumstance may have, at times, sparked questions of identity and lovability in a young-hearted me, this is not a sad story. Because always always always, what man intends for evil, God uses for good.
When I had to meet two very different households’ sets of expectations, God showed me what I valued in a home and why exactly I may or may not value it.
When I was introduced to my parents’ dates who very very much wanted to inflict their own methods of parenting on me, God grounded me in His truth and acceptance of the person He had made me to be.
When I felt the weight of my mother’s grief and stress over having to carry such a load, God showed me that He and He alone was responsible for carrying it.
When I had to hop from house to house throughout the weeks, I developed a bond with my little brother that has turned into a strong and powerful friendship.
It’s easy to look at the statistics and wonder what God is doing, especially when divorce, unfaithfulness, and broken relationships happen within the Church. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, we think. Hearts run rampant with guilt knowing what the Bible says about divorce and what they’ve actually done, what they’ve felt like they couldn’t not have done. Children grow up in the Church, and in broken homes. And in all of it, He tells us to come to him. He picks up what we’ve torn apart and makes it whole again.
Just like He did with the Israelites. There were a few faithful left who, I’m sure, dealt with the temptation of falling into the ways of the chosen people who felt forgotten by God. While His heart broke over the sin His people committed, He held his hands open and offered to restore them.
“I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices” (Isaiah 65:2).
“Your name is Our Redeemer” (Isaiah 63:16).
Divorce is a tragedy. It’s not of God, I’m certain; not ever a part of His plan. Lots of things in this world happen that are outside of what the God of creation intended for the one he originally made. A curse is a curse. Yet we are able, as image bearers of the God of everything, to see and bring the Kingdom He made, the Kingdom He dwells in in the midst of the broken. And since I can’t comprehend any concept of perfection in my sin-stained view of the world, I can’t imagine anything more beautiful than the very Kingdom of God breaking into the places the enemy tried to destroy.
That’s how divorce has been in my family. It’s not a sad story. I would never, ever paint it that way. What threatens to destroy youths, to bring strife to families, brought me close to a God who has shown me that family goes so much deeper than momentary heartbreak. I won’t say it was always easy. But I will say I have seen the most amazing examples of broken people picking up broken pieces and making a masterpiece.